Your Holy Day of Obligation Sermon Notes

In these USA 1 January is a Holy Day of Obligation.  Not so in some other countries/conferences (e.g.,  such as England and Wales).

Intentionally missing Mass on this day, in these USA, if you could have reasonably attended, is a mortal sin.

Was there a good point made during the sermon for your Mass of Obligation?  Let us know!

NB: These “Your Notes” posts are not about what didn’t happen, or what you wanted to happen.  They are not for complaining.

They are not for anything other than good points made.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. iPadre says:

    Throughout the Octave, the Church teaches us who this child is.

    God appointed Aaron & his son’s priest of the old covenant.
    The Father sent His Son as priest, altar and sacrifice.
    Priests are alter Christus, collaborators with the One Priest, Jesus Christ.

    It was Our Lady’s yes that made the Incarnation, the Priesthood and the Sacraments possible.

  2. Tradster says:

    The sermon at our SSPX chapel was about having a circumcision of the heart; cutting away anything that impedes our full dedication to the Sacred Heart.

  3. marthawrites says:

    Our priest spoke of the Italian tradition of throwing out any chipped plates, cups, dented pots or pans the last day of the year, so that one starts the new year with only what is in good condition. Our bad habits and sins can be thrown away, too–tossed out into the street so that we begin 2016 fresh, ready to use what graces God wishes to give us.

  4. de_cupertino says:

    Although the local ordinary dispensed the obligation (a populous California diocese), We went and Fr talked about the satanic desecration of the Mary statue and the black “mass” in Oklahoma. He said satanists hate the Church because what we believe is real and powerful.

  5. Volanges says:

    No, no mention that this was a Holy Day of Obligation in the homily. In fact, most of the homily consisted of asking why we didn’t just open ourselves up to God’s will and let him take over. Examples of what happened to Paul and to Mary when they allowed this.

    To be fair, I wasn’t here last week so he may have mentioned it then. But in a parish of ~430 families for a parish census of ~1500 we had 19 at Mass last night and about 40 at Mass this morning. It’s been a pet peeve of mine that even the choir can’t be bothered to come to this one. The director makes no bones about the fact that the partying New Year’s Eve is the reason they don’t attend.

  6. JesusFreak84 says:

    Father reiterated his points from the Sunday after Christmas (UGCC parish.) He also had a go at loons who try and insist that Our Lord wasn’t Jewish o_O My parish is TINY and the attendance today was far more than I expected o.o (11 people, then the cantor, Deacon, and Deacon’s son.)

  7. atorresesquivel says:

    Beautiful sermon by Canon Meney at low mass this morning. Preached from the epistle of St. Paul to Titus regarding the glory of God. Wonderful way to start the new year.

  8. TWF says:

    Still on my way… Last call for salvation, the 8 pm mass at the cathedral here in Vancouver. With 8 obligation masses scheduled, pretty hard to find an excuse to not make it.

  9. cregduff says:

    Our pastor gave a great sermon. His intro to it was, self described, a downer. He said that it was very likely that 2016 would be very similar to 2015 despite all the kind and best wishes of a happy and healthy new year. Realistically, as the world is still so broken we have very far to go and should expect let downs and continued hardships and evil.
    Then he turned the topic around and made the emphasis on two aspects to look ahead. First was procedural – he said that how we approach the evil and our response to it, our reactions and our attitude and inner disposition makes a difference in how we live in the new year. And the second is all about how we get help. The focus is on Our Lady, and especially under the title of Untier of Knots – which he had previously introduced to the parish. Ultimately our goal is to appeal to Mary and our attitude and disposition should be to Jesus thru Mary.

  10. kay says:

    I did say/sing the words of the the Veni Creator Spiritus along with listening to the chant (thanks youtube) which I read is a plenary indulgence three times just because it was so pretty.
    I did happen to thank God early this morning around 4am when I went to bed after going outside and turning off the lights for the beautiful night sky – everything was in alignment at that point from the moon to a few stars and some bright planets. It was like a necklace of heavenly bodies that He showed me. I told God I loved him and went to bed.
    Sorry FatherZ. No mass for me. Call me shocked to learn this was a Holy Day of Obligation. Nobody told me and it wasn’t listed as such in the weekly newsletter/Missal.

  11. Facta Non Verba says:

    By saying yes, Mary is Our Lady of New Life.

  12. Adaquano says:

    In an effort to strengthen our spiritual lives we should reflect on the past year. How often did we go to confession? How often did we receive the Body of Christ? How often did we take to heart the homily? How often did we just make Mass an obligation?

  13. Geoffrey says:

    January 1st is not a holy day of obligation in the Province of Los Angeles and its suffragan dioceses.

  14. orlandocruz says:

    Attended N.O. Mass last night at St.Mathews Cathedral in Washington DC , the service was reverential and dignified , no mention was made of it being a Holy Day of Obligation. As I sat there in that magnificent building in prayful reflection , I found myself wishing that the Mass was the TLM and not N.O.

  15. oldconvert says:

    Not a Holyday of Obligation in England, as you say, but I attended Mass anyway. Father spoke eloquently on Our Blessed Lady and mercy.

    @Nicholas Bellord: none of the Catholics I know thank the Bishops of England and Wales for their wholesale transfer of the Holydays to Sundays, nor can we fathom the reasoning. Perhaps the official wish is, as Ttony says, that the more we become like Protestants, the more they’ll like us.

  16. Charlie says:

    Besides the Sundays of the year,here in Canada we have two other Holy Days of Obligation: Christmas and January 1 in honour of the Mother of God.
    No where that I’m aware of was the indulgence for January 1 mentioned in my diocese.Indeed I haven’t heard the word ‘indulgence’ for a good many years.Nor,as far as I’m aware do we have universal meatless Fridays in the country though some Bishops have recommended it-but not as far as I’m aware under pain of damnation.

  17. leftycbd says:

    My pastor said several things of interest….paraphrased:

    1. As a new year’s resolution, we should start every day thanking God for another day.
    2. We will inevitably hear more bad things about ISIS this year. As we revere Mary as Mother of God today, we should pray for the conversion of Muslims through her intercession, as she is revered in the Koran above all other women, and respected by them. Abp. Fulton Sheen also told us to pray for their conversion.

  18. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Father preached about why we have an Octave of Christmas, the title of the feast day, the World Day of Peace observation, and what a Holy Day of Obligation is. He also encouraged everyone to make a New Year’s resolution that did something to augment one’s prayer life, and that the traditional popular devotions like the Rosary (even just a decade at a time, or a few of the Mysteries) or the Angelus (since the parish had Angelus bells or bell sounds) were great ways to pray.

    Not the world’s most traditional priest, but too conscientious not to realize that people need the basics preached to them. He admitted in his homily that he had not always liked the Rosary, (which he attributed to the speed that people sometimes use to say it), but that now he understood how good it is. (He is devoted to his parish’s patron saint, and that guy was very big on catechization work and the popular devotions during his life, so I suspect that has helped Father.)

    The parish was super lovely, and the choir quite good. No “Te Deum” or other indulgenced hymns, though. Most music directors and priests do not know about them. We presenters should probably give more reminders (ahead of time, so musicians can practice).

  19. Mike says:

    Homily was very good–how great a mother Our Lady is….music was sentimental self caressing dreck. (Hat tip to D Thompson for that.)

  20. benedetta says:

    That we can ask Mary in this new year to strengthen us internally to take on her “yes” to God which will help us endure whatever trials may come and orient us to what is lasting and beautiful and joyful in the sense of eternity.

  21. Fr. Thomas Kocik says:

    I’m a bit curious about why some commenters expressed mild regret that that the homilist (priest or deacon) didn’t mention at Mass yesterday that Jan. 1st is a holy day of obligation in these USA. Wouldn’t most, if not all, people in attendance at Mass yesterday have already known that, which is why they came to Mass to begin with? (Of course, daily Mass-goers would have been there anyway.)

  22. I opted for a mid-morning sung OF Mass over an early New Year’s morning low EF Mass. Celebrated by Fr. John Orr at Holy Ghost Church in Knoxville, with reverence and solemnity (both ministers and people) like the Sunday EF Mass in this parish, with equally beautiful music (wonderful organ and choir-loft voices) and plenty of smells and bells. Sermon dealing with the importance of Octave of Christmas, and of Catholics observing faithfully their Catholic heritage of traditions and customs, seasons and holy days. Traditional Marian hymns for the processional and recessional; offertory and communion motets by the choir in lieu of congregational hymns; other than the Kyrie (Gr), the vernacular Ordinary was chanted in unison by the whole congregation in the official OF 3e Missal tones (with which the parishioners here are familiar from use at Sunday OF Mass). Antiphons by the choir, sung congregational dialogues, propers and preface all beautifully chanted by the priest. Roman Canon, with none of the half-dozen optional Through Christ Our Lord’s omitted (How many typical parish Catholics have ever heard them?). No EMHC’s; those who wished knelt at the altar rail for communion. On the way out another usually EF-only parishioner was heard saying “I hate to admit it, but this OF Mass was truly beautiful”. With which I concurred fully (though without hating to admit it).

  23. pannw says:

    Mary, Mother of God, has long been a controversial title for Our Mother. It came into use early on, and became such a controversy that a council had to deal with it and the doctrine was confirmed at Ephesus, appropriately since that is where the Blessed Mother lived, in the care of Saint John the Apostle, to whom Our Lord entrusted her from The Cross. The Council of Ephesus’ ruling was more a statement on the nature of Jesus than even the nature of Mary. By denying that she was the Mother of God, people were misunderstanding the truth about Jesus, that He was truly God and truly man and that the two natures were not and could not be separated. He did not have a human side that was the son of Mary, and a divine side that belonged only to The Father. He was not a mere instrument used by God, but He was God. He is One in nature and if He is God, which He is, then, as He was born of The Virgin Mary, she is His Mother, thus Mary is the Mother of God.

    Downtown NO Mass, beautifully prayed, and packed to the rafters. Standing room only. I don’t think Father mentioned it during the Mass yesterday, but had announced at Christmas Midnight Mass that January 1 was a Holy Day of Obligation and I’m sure he reminded everyone at Sunday Mass, though I was out of town. He’s good about that sort of thing.

    I am shocked to hear that it is not considered a Holy Day of Obligation everywhere! What better way to start the New Year? Very sad…

    I thank God for my bishop, and my priest and his associate, and the 3 wonderful seminarians who served the Mass yesterday. We are blessed.

    Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year to you, Fr. Z. and to all the readers. I am thankful for you all, too.

  24. benedetta says:

    I think Fr. Kocik raises an interesting point, but I think too the commenter who mentioned that the choir was not present also something to consider. One aspect of keeping the liturgical year in one’s heart and mind with the whole Church through the traditional calendar is that holy days are not treated predominantly as a weekday Mass which is an obligation in terms of the liturgical beauty and music but rather are moments to stop and ponder, pray over, celebrate culturally as well as in the Mass, sing about, consider all unto themselves and in relation to the great ongoing mystery of the liturgical seasons. Consistent with Fr.’s other post of today with respect to that profound beauty we enter into as Catholics, I think in these mean and ugly times we are living with to have care dedicated to the details of a holy day of obligation is to receive great refreshment and encouragement in the sacred mysteries. Where I assisted yesterday, I thought there was some care expended to this that underscored an “extraordinary” or “exceptional” moment in the life of the Church that one could take home.

  25. I tend to pour all my energy into my Christmas homily, and by the time Mother of God comes around, I’m running on fumes.

    This year, I reworked themes I’ve covered before: This day takes note of three things: the circumcision, the naming of Jesus, and the Motherhood of Mary. In the course of talking about the naming of the Lord, I added some points about how important it is to choose saint or Bible names for your child, and to have a specific patron saint in mind, and tell your children who their patron is. I’m always sad when I ask a child, “who is your patron saint?” and they have no idea.

  26. Oh, and we prayed the Te Deum and Veni Creator after each Mass, with instructions on how to obtain the plenary indulgence.

    And I told people this was a holy day of obligation the prior Sunday. I didn’t mention it on the day.

  27. timfout says:

    Our pastor sermonized that the feast of the Circumcision makes two points. 1. That Our Lord was a real man, like us in all things save sin. 2. That Our Lord practiced his religion. His family practiced it and so did he personally throughout his life. So should we practice our religion as Catholics. But we were warned in the sermon that outward practice must be accompanied by interior conversion. These are very good points. I wonder if Fr. Z mines these comments for future sermon ideas. :-)

  28. Precentrix says:

    Not of obligation here but went on a Youth 2000 retreat (yes, I’m a right tradfie and wouldn’t normally).

    Aside from what I personally gained, the theme was “Behold, I make all things new”. The basic message throughout – if we really get to know the Lord, spend time with Him, we cannot help but love Him. We must love Him with His own love, I.e. As we love God, the Holy Spirit is already working in us. Love is like a fire, it sheds light and warmth but also transforms. If we love God and allow ourselves to be loved by our Merciful Father, we cannot help but be transformed, and as this happens we become like stars leading others to Him.

    At midnight for the Feast, basically the addition that Our Lady always leads us to Christ. :)

  29. dochm13 says:

    EF low Mass which was advertised as a High Mass in the previous week’s bulletin. Maybe the choir stayed out too late.

    The sermon (from the pastor of the place) was on the importance of baking a cake and singing Happy Birthday to Jesus on Christmas. Which I guess is noble in itself, but this really was the entirety of the sermon.

    This is not my parish of record; I normally attend at the cathedral of my place, but I do visit this FSSP parish at least once a month. This new pastor was installed a few months ago, and it has been strange for day one.

  30. dochm13 says:

    FROM day one.

  31. robtbrown says:

    Pannw says,

    The Council of Ephesus’ ruling was more a statement on the nature of Jesus than even the nature of Mary. By denying that she was the Mother of God, people were misunderstanding the truth about Jesus, that He was truly God and truly man and that the two natures were not and could not be separated.

    Actually, it was and is a statement about His Person, not His nature. There are two distinct and separate natures–one divine, the other human–united in One Divine Person.

    NB: Nothing attributed to His Divine Nature can be attributed to His Human Nature–and vice versa. Whatever is attributed to either Nature, however, is also attributed to His Person. (communicatio idiomatum). Thus, His Mother is the Mother of God.

  32. taffymycat says:

    my parish which has several churches and always a friday noon mass at one of them, chose for some reason to cancel mass at this church. there wasnt an announcement in bulletin and it was also first friday. have no idea why me and a bunch of others from other parishes, too, were standing around waiting for mass that never was. there was no other available mass after that. so i missed unfortunately. whats weird is it had been announced in mass a few days before that there would be mass and it was a holy day of obligation.

  33. pannw says:

    robtbrown, Thank you very much for the correction/clarification. I feel sure that the error is mine, and not Father’s. I admit to being highly distracted during his sermon by a mother who was sitting at the front of the church directly in front of the pulpit and every 2 seconds (not exaggerating) would stand up and pace up and down the aisle with her child, who was not even crying. I don’t know how Father kept his train of thought as she was doing it right in front of him! Anyway, I knew when I was typing it that it didn’t seem quite right. So again, thank you very much.

  34. Imrahil says:

    re HDO and partying (OT, but many commented on this one):

    The rule that Masses absolutely have to be in the morning has long been abrogated.

    I’m no enemy of partying, but if you can’t make it to Mass at six o’clock (pm, of course) or the like, then maybe, just maybe, you really were a bit excessive.

  35. Mike says:

    Sorry, Father, just saw your NB too late! Mea culpa!

  36. hwriggles4 says:

    Our pastor did a good job at the 5:30 p.m. Mass that I attended. (I would of made the New Year’s Eve Mass at 7:00 p.m., which was the anticipated Mass for the Solemnity, but I was picking a friend up at the airport). Father even complimented during his announcement after Eucharist how pleased he was to see the Church packed for the Holy Day of Obligation. Father’s homily highlighted the role of Mary and the importance of the Body and Blood of Christ. I also liked that while there was a permanent deacon present, Father went ahead and did the homily (like many other priests today, this pastor seems to be one who wants to have priests do the preaching – although the permanent deacons will preach every so often, but not week after week – because IMHO a priest preaching is an encouragement and awareness of the vocation of a priest).

    By the way, my parish is located in a metropolitan area with a number of nearby businesses, and there are two major highways that connect within a mile from the parish. Ever since I have lived in this large city, this parish has always had a daily Mass at 5:30 p.m. that is well attended, particularly by Catholics who are leaving their offices and are on the way home for the evening.

  37. robtbrown says:


    I’m not correcting you, just trying to show a fundamental of the faith concerning Who Christ is. Is He both God and Man? And if so, is there a Union between them? Nestorianism affirms the first but denies the second. Monophysitism denies the first but affirms the second.

  38. The Masked Chicken says:

    “In fact, most of the homily consisted of asking why we didn’t just open ourselves up to God’s will and let him take over. Examples of what happened to Paul and to Mary when they allowed this.”

    This should be a little better stated. Opening ourselves to God’s will seems to be asking for a revelation and letting him take over seems to be asking to be a puppet. God wants a spousal relationship with us. We have the Commands, Counsels, and Precepts of Christ. That is God’s known will. Everything else, what we think God wants us to do beyond his public revelation, must be judged in the light of reason and conformity with his known will. That is a human task (barring direct supernatural intervention), aided by grace, since it calls for discernment and prudence. As for letting God take over, that would be to deny moral accountability for us, since one could say, “God took over, not me.” Mary was the perfect mother and spouse because she asked a reasonable question of Gabriel (how can I get pregnant?) and when she heard that Elizabeth was pregnant, she set out in haste to help her, even though she was in the first trimester of pregnancy. Her love of God and her cousin told her what to do. She didn’t let God take over – God let her take over.

    The best of spouses know each other’s hearts and minds so well that their actions are one. No one takes over the other. They share a life. Opening oneself to God means loving him, with your whole heart, your whole soul, and your whole strength to the point where his thoughts become your thoughts and your thoughts become his thoughts. Just as in the person of Jesus, the Divine and human wills, though distinct, were united in love, just so should be the Divine will and your will. This can only happen through loving God and that takes constancy.

    I like to think that the Divine romance (didn’t you know that you were in a romance novel?) between God and your soul reaches perfection when, like any married couple, the wife can say to her husband, “I’m going to the store. What do you want for lunch?” The husband can reply, “You know me so well. I trust you. Get lunch for both of us.”

    That is how The Blessed Virgin and St. Paul acted – like good friends and spouses. For us, it should be the same. Dating has become so corrupted in modern times that it is difficult to get people to understand that learning to grow in Christ is like, “going steady” (a term from the 1950’s America – look it up). You do things together and get to know each other. Most people just couldn’t imagine going out for a soda with God, but if you want your earthly best friend around all of the time, how much more should we want God with us. The first step in getting to know God is to realize that He is present at every moment of our lives, even the tedious, mundane moments. It might get you locked up to actually sit across from an empty chair in public drinking a soda and talking to God, but well, that is why Churches should be open during the day – not for the soda and the chair, but for the sharing of lives, your and God’s. How much faster would you progress in prayer if you sat down for a soda with God everyday in your own home?

    The Chicken

  39. Sue in soCal says:

    Not a holy day of obligation in the Los Angeles archdiocese. Father talked about the importance of Mary in the Church.

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